Battle of Dagon
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|Battle of Dagon|
|(First Alliance-Imperial War)|
Schematic of the climax of the battle
|Date:||14 July 640 UC (331 IC / 3440 CE) to 24 July 640 UC (331 IC / 3440 CE)|
|Result:||Major Alliance victory|
In 640 UC (331 IC / 3440 CE), Friedrich III appointed his 3rd son, Grand Duke Herbert, Fleet Admiral and Commander in Chief of an Expeditionary Force to subjugate the newly contacted Free Planets Alliance, which the Empire refused to acknowledge as a legitimate political entity and would always refer to as "rebels". The Expeditionary Force numbered 52,600 ships and 4,408,000 soldiers.
An advisory group of Imperial commanders accompanied the inexperienced Herbert, but half of these were chosen by Herbert and were his personal drinking friends. One of the experienced advisers, Vice Admiral Ingolstadt, was in operational command.
The Alliance force that engaged was commanded by Lin Pao, with Yūsuf Topparol as Chief of Staff, and was approximately half the size of the Imperial force, comprising 25,000 ships and 2,500,000 soldiers. (Data Book: Mechanic & Seiyū Encyclopaedia, p. 110)
Commanding the Alliance Fleet's squadrons were vice admirals Andrassy, Mungay, Oersted, Orewinsky and Ward.
The two forces first made contact on 14 July with an exchange of fire at 30 million km, causing no casualties. The first major attack was launched on 16 July by Alliance forces under Orewinsky, but they took 30% losses before being rescued from an Imperial envelopment by Oersted's squadron.
Grand Duke Herbert became overconfident at this early success and ordered his forces to split up on search and destroy missions, despite Imperial forces being unfamiliar with the area, and despite communications and sensors being impaired by electromagnetic interference from the Dagon star.
On 18 July, the main forces of both sides clashed in frontal battle. The Imperial forces adopted a convex formation while the Alliance forces took a concave formation. Both sides fought conventionally with no unusual methods. For a time the Imperial forces seemed to gain the upper hand, inspired by Herbert's presence on the front lines. However an attack against the Imperial right ventrum by Alliance forces under the command of Vice Admiral Andrassy forced the Imperial forces back onto the defensive.
By the next day, Lin Pao and Yūsuf Topparol had deduced the Imperial commander lacked experience and had unwisely split his forces, which were scattered around the Dagon star system. Massing all Alliance forces, they concentrated on attacking Herbert's headquarters. The situation was in the balance and Ingolstadt committed Imperial reserves to battle. The Alliance situation was salvaged when Alliance Vice Admiral Oersted launched diversionary attacks against the Imperial flank and rear, disrupting communications.
On 20 July, Vice Admiral Passenheim became the first Imperial flag officer killed in combat. Due to the sensor interference, he mistook Ingolstadt's fleet for an enemy fleet, and moved to cut off its rear, while mistakenly assuming the Alliance fleet under Oersted on his right flank was a friendly fleet. Oersted's sudden attack on Passenheim's exposed right threw the Imperial force into confusion and Passenheim was killed in action.
Ingolstadt was publicly berated by Herbert for this. Herbert decided to gather all his scattered forces and mass them together, but he issued hurried orders that were intercepted by the Alliance. Based on that intercepted information, the Alliance constructed a large scale envelopment around the location, involving three separate forces. Vice Admiral Ward and Vice Admiral Andrassy each commanded 1 of these 3 forces.
On 21 July, the envelopment began with Ward attacking the Imperial left flank and catching the Imperial forces by surprise. Efforts to escape were blocked by Andrassy's forces in the other direction. In panic and confusion, and under pressure by the constricting Alliance envelopment, the Imperial forces adopted a defensive tight spherical formation, but this only robbed them of mobility and made them a densely packed target.
Due to this and the collapse of the Imperial's grasp on the situation, the Imperial Fleet's confusion only worsened, and its forces continued to retreat inwards, making an increasing number of ships unable to manoeuvre or even fight back. On the other hand, the increasingly smaller sphere allowed the Alliance forces – which had plenty of space and could make full use of every single ship – to continually strengthen their lines and increase the destructive power of their encirclement.
By 24 July 640 UC, the Imperial Expeditionary Force had been annihilated. The remnants of the Expeditionary Force that returned to Odin numbered only 368,200 for a survival rate of 8.3%. By contrast, 2,340,000 Alliance soldiers survived, for a survival rate of 93.6%. (The Chronicle of the Battle of Dagon)
Aftermath and Legacy
The Battle of Dagon, apart from being the first major Imperial military defeat since the founding of the Empire, also changed the course of the Imperial succession. Herbert, who was being groomed for the role of Crown Prince to replace his ailing eldest brother, fell from favour and was placed under house arrest and forced to accept psychiatric treatment. (The Chronicle of the Battle of Dagon)
Despite Imperial attempts to suppress news of the defeat, word still spread and shattered the myth of Imperial military invincibility, triggering a massive flow of refugees, dissidents, deserters, and criminal elements from the Empire to the Alliance. While this allowed the Alliance to achieve rapid expansion of population and territory, it also changed the composition of the population as not all these refugees were believers in republican ideals and government. (LOGH: 'Julian's Journey, Mankind's Journey')
The Battle of Dagon could be said to have been an overwhelming Alliance tactical and strategic victory. Where a defeat would have likely ended the Alliance altogether, victory not only allowed it to endure, but also to actually expand from the large influx of refugees.
Alliance commanders 156 years later attempted to re-use Lin Pao and Yūsuf Topparol's three sided envelopment during the Battle of Astarte but met with defeat. The reason for this was that, by that time, the Imperial forces were better prepared and, most tellingly, the general level of military talent had reversed. While it was the Alliance commanders who had the better part of the talent at Dagon, the Imperials had the lion's share at Astarte. Thus, the battle evolved much differently, with the Imperial forces declining to repeat the error of remaining in an immobile defensive formation. (LOGH: 'In the Eternal Night')